Cover image for Grand Central : gateway to a million lives
Grand Central : gateway to a million lives
Belle, John.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : W.W. Norton, [2000]

Physical Description:
vii, 230 pages : illustrations (some color), color map, plans (some color) ; 28 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
NA6313.N4 B45 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize

On Order



It begins with the historic struggle to save Grand Central in the wake of the destruction of Penn Station and in the face of economic forces in the real estate industry that were intent on its demise. There follows a chronological history of the previous two stations on the site, the construction of the present building, text and photographs providing a fascinating first-hand account of the $400 million restoration, and the grand and anecdotal stories that involve the great building.

Author Notes

Maxinne R. Leighton is currently with Parsons Brinckerhoff, Inc. She is the author of An Ellis Island Christmas.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The information-packed yet spirited text about one of the most famous rail terminals in the world is well supported by abundant illustrations. Coauthor Belle was the principal architect of the $400 million Grand Central restoration project, which concluded with the station's rededication in October 1998. Belle and Leighton's lively chronicle of the history of the station and its rescue from the wrecking ball offers not only a fascinating microcosm of the rise and fall of rail transportation in this country but also a view of the restoration project as a watershed in the landmark preservation movement. Grand Central was built in the early twentieth century, and it quickly became a crossroads of rail travel. In 1947, for instance, more than 65 million people passed through its halls and corridors, a number that represented the equivalent of 40 percent of the U.S. population at the time. This book glowingly touts Grand Central Station's architectural significance and its place in American business and culture. Brad Hooper

Library Journal Review

New York City's Grand Central Terminal is among those iconic structures that symbolize, if not a nation, then a national spirit. This book recounts the dramatic story of the terminal with a cast that includes the Vanderbilt dynasty, Jimmy Durante, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Architects Belle and Leighton, whose firm supervised the spectacularly successful restoration of Grand Central, provide an insider's perspective on the effort to rescue the once-endangered terminal. Unfortunately, perhaps in an effort to reach a wide audience, the text is weighted toward economic aspects, cultural significance, and lore; design and architecture are given cursory treatment. Even so, this is an engaging account of the rise and decline of mass transport in this century. For large public and academic libraries, and collections with concentrations in urban planning, transportation, and historic preservation.--David Soltesz, Cuyahoga Cty. P.L., Parma, OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Grand Central Terminal in New York City ranks among the great testaments to 20th-century design, technology, and urban development. Few buildings in the US or abroad express Beaux-Arts ideals of civic art with greater power and originality. Its monumental south facade and its ingenious sequence of public spaces epitomize an era of expansive optimism, but also efficiency difficult to match. No building project of the era presented more challenges to US engineering acumen or was more ambitious in its scale, which encompassed not only a huge railroad station but the redevelopment of a corridor--Park Avenue--that became one of the most fashionable in the nation. In more recent years, Grand Central entered the limelight in historic preservation. The campaign to save the building in the 1970s represented one of the epic struggles in that field and established a national precedent legally upholding the designation of landmarks. Architects Belle and Leighton do their subject justice. Engagingly written and copiously illustrated, the contents encompass the full gamut of the building's history up to the recent, exemplary restoration, for which Belle was the principal architect. The book is designed for a broad audience but offers a wealth of information of interest to specialists as well. All levels. R. Longstreth; George Washington University